Distemper: early type of paint before emulsion; a deranged condition of mind


From the age of mangles
and kitchen pulleys,
it had a smell as unforgettable
as steam on washing days,
which were always Mondays –
four pale green walls of it
in the booming back bedroom
where she used to leave him.

Still, he had a friend to wave to
in the wardrobe mirror,
a silent, sobbing, bar-rattling
partner in distemper,
when she didn’t come.

That cot was a godsend,
housework took all day, she said,
as she proudly remembered
his first memory –
a woman’s achievement
nothing would take away.





© Nemo 2023
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Nemo. Methinks that you give your age away with this ditty… I wrote a similar ode about ‘Dolly Blue’ some time ago. I will see if I can find it. 😉

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Hey Nemo! A hard hitting piece. So very, very cruel to a child to be shut up like that. For the parent to never come. Makes you wonder how animals feel behind bars in a zoo, doesn’t it? And what does that kind of neglect do to a child’s psyche? I’m sure that child loses hope, gets beaten down. Feels unwanted and unloved. Or, over time, enraged. But those were the standards, weren’t they? It’s taken me years to understand some aspects of my mother’s behavior from the perspective of the cultural norm of her day. I had to go… Read more »

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